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Google Updates Chrome with New Features

Google Updates Chrome with New Features

As both an internet user and a business owner, you need to know how to get the most out of your web browser. If you want to see Google as a business tool rather than a difficult inconvenience, read on.

Ad Blocking

Android users will be pleased to hear that the newly updated Google Chrome comes with an ad blocking feature. Gone are the days when they have to manually close pop-ups, because Chrome will now automatically stop sites from opening new tabs or windows without users’ permission. This won’t necessarily block all ads, but it should improve your internet browsing experience.

Meanwhile, Chrome will begin restricting certain ads: sticky ads (which remain in the same position even as you scroll), and ads that go over a particular size limit. Moreover, they won’t block static inline photo ads that show up in between two paragraphs in an article. All in all, this feature will prevent nine kinds of ads out of 55 potential ones.

Muting Autoplay Videos

In line with the ad blocking feature, Google has also decided to prevent sites from automatically playing video ads whenever a page loads. You can usually find these types of ads in between paragraphs when reading through an article in the site. This time around, Chrome won’t block video ads, but it will keep them on mute. This way, users can still continue reading the article without any unnecessary background noise.

Marking HTTP Sites as Unsecured

This particular feature should get the attention of small- and medium-sized businesses, as it will affect them personally. Google warns all sites without HTTPS protocol that they will be marked as “not secure” come July. They want to emphasize the importance of HTTPS encryption for web security, stating that it keeps the channel safe between your browser and the site you’re visiting. This guarantees that someone in the middle won’t spy on browsing activity or interfere with traffic.

At the moment, these users can already see a “Secure” sign and a green lock icon on HTTPS-encrypted pages. By July, Chrome’s address bar will be notifying those who enter HTTP sites that they are in an unsecured page.

Staying ahead of Google’s constant updates can be tiring. In the end, you have to realize that these improvements are often in the best interests of your customers and web users in general. If you need a little help with the IT side of things — give us a call today!

 

Beginner’s guide to virtualization

Beginner’s guide to virtualization

Deciding to invest in virtualization technology is one of the easiest decisions you can make. By consolidating computing resources into physical servers, businesses can enjoy easy IT management and massive cost savings. What’s not so easy, however, is the deployment process, which requires careful planning and implementation of best practices. Here’s what you need to do.

Conduct an assessment
Evaluating your IT environment is an important step in the implementation process. After all, you can’t just go around virtualizing everything without a plan. An IT assessment performed by an impartial managed services provider (MSP) like us helps you understand what type of virtualization solution you need.

For example, if the report found that computers don’t have enough processing power to run certain apps, desktop virtualization — which consolidates operating systems and apps into a single powerful server — is an ideal solution.

From there, you should be able to estimate costs and set realistic timelines for the implementation.

Don’t forget about hardware
Just because virtualization frees up space in your server room, does not mean hardware is no longer an issue. No matter what type of solution you opt for, the servers you use must be strong enough to support the entire company’s computing demands.

This means you must take stock of your apps and their hardware requirements and make sure your server has all the processing power, RAM, network capacity, and storage necessary to run them.

Underutilized servers are excellent candidates for virtualization, but purchasing new equipment may pay dividends in the long run. If you choose the latter option, ask your provider for recommendations. Chances are they’re partnered with virtualization-optimized hardware vendors that offer top-of-the-line servers.

Prevent VM sprawl
Virtualization allows you to deliver computing resources to workstations in your network via virtual machines (VMs), which can be created on a server in just a few minutes. While this lets you scale and provision resources quickly, there are risks if you don’t have someone regularly reviewing which VMs are worthwhile and which are outdated. You could be losing out on cost savings and efficiency benefits.

When too many VMs are created, they can quickly consume all server resources and complicate licensing and asset management.

To prevent sprawl, you must establish policies and restrictions for VM creation. For instance, users must have a good justification for creating a VM (e.g., testing software or provisioning apps for new users).

Prioritize business continuity
You must also protect the hardware running your virtual servers. Make sure to lock up server rooms and have secondary servers available in case the first one breaks down. While you’re at it, take advantage of automated backup solutions that make copies of your VMs and their files regularly.

Work with experts
Building and maintaining a virtual infrastructure is no simple task. That’s why you’ll want to work with a virtualization specialist who can guarantee a seamless implementation and provide ongoing management services.

For more tips on virtualization, call our experts today!

 

Microsoft updates apps for Apple devices

Microsoft updates apps for Apple devices

Microsoft has announced updates, including new capabilities in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for iOS and Mac. Office 365 subscribers can now easily drag-and-drop Office files, co-edit documents in real time, and enjoy other enhancements previously unavailable to Apple users.

Co-authoring in Word, Excel, PowerPoint

Apple users can now co-edit documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This new feature for Apple products allows several users to work, edit, or view changes in a document at once, whether from a PC, Mac, or mobile device. This feature also allows co-authors to track and identify other users who are making changes in real time.

Autosave documents in the cloud

The latest updates also come with an autosave feature for Apple users. This functionality not only automatically saves files, but also lets users view and restore previous versions of their content, similar to the autosave function in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

OneDrive support for iOS’s Files app

iOS’s Files app, which was introduced in the iOS 11 update, made searching and organizing documents more convenient for iPhone and iPad users. However, it’s only now that Microsoft has integrated its own cloud storage platform with the Apple app. OneDrive for iOS now supports the Files app, which means users can access and edit all their files in OneDrive or Sharepoint, and easily classify them via a new tagging feature.

File type preview enhancements

The improved list view in OneDrive for iOS makes viewing file names and relevant details and sorting files much easier. This view option includes thumbnails on file previews and support for 130 file types that can be opened, viewed, or shared within OneDrive.

Drag-and-drop functionality

A drag-and-drop capability is nothing new in iOS, but it was previously limited to moving around files from non-Office sources and apps. With the latest update, Apple users can drag and drop files from various sources that now includes OneDrive, Office, and other Microsoft sources. This capability saves users’ time when adding photos, graphs, and other files into documents or presentations on their iPad, iPhone or Mac.

Better search function in Outlook

Microsoft has also improved searching in Outlook for iOS because the search function now has its own tab in the navigation bar. The search feature is now more intuitive; tapping on the tab gives you instant access to top contacts, upcoming travel itineraries and deliveries, and recently accessed attachments.

These recent updates to Microsoft’s productivity tools aim to make users’ life much easier regardless of the device they use. But there’s way more Office 365 apps and programs to help you work more efficiently, and we have Microsoft consultants who can help you maximize all of them. Just give us a call.

 

Reclaim your Windows 10 privacy

Reclaim your Windows 10 privacy

The advent of social media has enabled advertisers to target their consumers better than ever before. But, are you aware that your operating system could also be helping companies display personalized ads based on your online searches? Read on to learn more about Windows 10’s flawed privacy settings and how you can fix them.

Turn personalized advertising off

For those unaware, Windows 10 assigns each user an ‘advertising ID’ which it uses to personalize your ad experience based on your recent browser history. If you’re someone who is okay with seeing generic ads targeted to you based on demographics rather than your ID, we recommend turning this feature off.

  1. To do so, head into your settings by clicking on the magnifying glass symbol next to the Windows logo, at the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Next, type in Privacy — click on it, and select General.
  3. Then, slide the option which states ‘let apps use my advertising ID for experience across apps’ to Off.
  4. Lastly, open your web browser and go to this link. Once there, select Off for ‘Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account’ and ‘Personalized ads in this browser.’

This resets your ad ID, allowing you to experience the joys of web surfing without the creepy targeted advertisements.

Disable Cortana

Voice-controlled digital assistants have become big business. Microsoft aims to capitalize on this market with Cortana, an incredibly resourceful, built-in assistant that allows to you quickly set reminders, schedule events and send email, among many other intuitive features. It uses the information it collects similar to how Google’s Android-based assistant does it. However, it can become overbearing at times.

  1. To turn it off, click on the Cortana icon in the taskbar, followed by the notebook icon on the left hand side of the pop-up panel.
  2. Click on Settings, this should present you with the first option which says, ‘Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more’, you can slide that to Off.

Once disabled, the Cortana option disappears and you’re now presented with a search bar which you can use to search for things online or on your desktop.

Stop peer-to-peer file-sharing

With P2P file-sharing enabled, Windows 10 shares downloaded updates to your PC with other Windows 10 users by default. This helps other users update their systems faster, and speeds up your upgrade downloads, as well. However, if you are unhappy with your files being utilized by other users, you can turn it off.

  1. Head over to Settings once again.
  2. Click on ‘Update and Security’, followed by ‘Windows Update’, then ‘Advanced Options’ and finally select ‘Choose how updates are delivered.’
  3. By default, the ‘Updates from more than one place’ is on, followed by two options: distribute updates only to PCs on local network, and shut off P2P updates entirely.
  4. If you want to disable this feature entirely without worrying about specifics, then move the slider to Off.

If you want to share your files with PCs on your in-house network only, leave the the slider in the On position and select the button which says ‘PCs on my local network.’ For more detailed instructions on how to stop P2P updates, click here.

Blunt Microsoft’s Edge

Remember Internet Explorer? Think of Microsoft Edge as the same, just on steroids. The tech giant’s fancy new browser is chock full of features — such as Cortana Integration and typing prediction — which may make you uncomfortable, since all the features send data back to Microsoft. To turn off these intrusive functionalities, open Edge and click on the menu icon in the far right corner (three horizontal dots).

Once in, click on ‘View Advanced Settings’. There you have the option to disable Adobe Flash — which stops those Flash cookies from going anywhere. You’ll also encounter a bunch of settings you might want to disable under the ‘Privacy and Services’ section.

These simple security tips will stop Microsoft from tracking your online movements for good! In case you’re interested in protecting your privacy, don’t hesitate to contact us today for all matters security related.

 

Don’t fall for distributed spam distraction

Don’t fall for distributed spam distraction

One of the most frustrating things about using email is seeing dozens of spam messages every day. Fortunately, they’re just minor annoyances that are easy to remove from your inbox. However, hackers have developed a way to make spam much more insidious. Here’s what you need to know about modern spam attacks.

Understanding DSD
Distributed Spam Distraction (DSD) is designed to inundate your inbox with thousands of nonsense emails. There are no dangerous links, ads, or attachments involved, just random excerpts of text stolen from books and websites. What’s more, the email and IP addresses used are all different so victims can’t simply block a specific sender.

These attacks last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and can flood inboxes with as many as 60,000 messages. While they may seem like harmless annoyances, the true purpose of DSD is to draw victims’ attention away from what hackers are doing behind the scenes.

And what they’re doing is exploiting your personally identifiable information (PII) to make unauthorized purchases or pilfer cash directly from your accounts. The DSD acts as a sort of smokescreen to hide payment confirmation messages behind a deluge of spam messages.

New tactics
Over the years, hackers have developed new tactics involving DSD. Several reports have shown that, instead of nonsensical emails, hackers are using automated software to have their targets sign up for thousands of free accounts and newsletters to distract them with authentic messages. This allows DSD blasts to slip past spam filters that have been designed to weed out malicious code and gibberish text used by traditional DSD attacks.

What’s even more worrying is that any ill-intentioned individual can go to the dark web and pay for DSD services. They just have to provide a hacker with their target’s name, email address, and credit card numbers — all of which can also be purchased in the dark web — and pay as little as $40 to send 20,000 spam messages.

How to stop it
DSD is a clear sign that one of your accounts has been hijacked, so whenever you receive dozens of emails in quick succession, contact your financial institutions to cancel any unfamiliar transactions and change your login credentials as soon as possible. It’s also important to update your anti-spam software (or get one if you don’t have one already) to protect your inbox from future DSD attacks.

Hackers only initiate DSD attacks after they’ve obtained their target’s email address and personal information, so make sure your accounts and identity are well protected. This means you should regularly change your passwords and pins, enable multi-factor authentication, set up text alerts for whenever online purchases are made in your name, and be careful about sharing personal information.

For more tips on how to deal with DSDs or other cyberattacks, call us today. We offer powerful tools and expert advice that will ensure your business’s safety.